Turn Off AutoPilot Once In a While
We might find ourselves going through the motion of our daily routines being followed around by the needy and dreadful “What is the point?” question. The motions start to feel more and more cumbersome if you find yourself slipping into that numbness. The smallest actions can start to be overwhelming as the question looms larger and larger in our minds. Although discipline in our days is most definitely self care, sometimes we might need a little more, that little bit of a UMPH to follow through, not just to get things done but to feel happy while we do it. Whether that’s dropping your kids off at practice, doing laundry, reorganizing your closet, painting your nails, cleaning your car, how do we start making these mundane tasks more exciting?
How do we make our routine a part of a greater spirit of joy than just our habits on autopilot?
In the end, so much of life is just that, isn’t it? It’s our daily routine, it’s the way you make your bed every morning and what you eat every lunch and how you spend time with the people in your household. It’s the way you pour yourself a drink after finishing a day’s work and how you get ready to workout. It’s how you do your hair, and fix your makeup and wash your hair. We aren’t always completely conscious of every little thing we do in the midst of our daily chaos, who can be?
This is when we can start a ritual. When we think of ritual we usually see it as part of a religious observation. A baptism, a wedding, a mikvah, these are all ceremonies that are considered rituals because they are actions that keep in mind a higher purpose than just what is being done. Yes, you’re exchanging rings with your partner but it is with the intention that you will spend the rest of your life together, in sickness or in health. When Jewish people perform mikvahs, to the untrained eye, it’s just a bath, but for those a part of the religion, it’s a way to purify yourself and reclaim your faith.
The common thread is that all these are done with mindfulness, with intention, and with regard to a greater sense of self. What do you need to get from your daily routine that will sustain your joy? What can you do to enhance the way you live so that you are not just an untrained eye watching someone go through habit after habit, but rather, you immerse yourself in this calling for a greater purpose? Rituals do not have to be religious but they definitely have a sense of sacred to them. They are sacred because they bring fulfillment, they are sacred because they bring happiness, because they make us feel like we are a part of something bigger than just ourselves and that can make all the difference.
Ritualize your every day so you can start serving your higher self.
Power Tip 1: Start with your perspective
A routine becomes a ritual when we start imbuing it with meaning. A ritual isn’t something you can do on autopilot because it demands you to be present. You need to BE there, mentally, physically and sometimes, spiritually. In that case, your perspective has to shift about the world around you. Small acts can mean big things. Bringing some purpose to your life and thinking about the ways your actions affect your mental and physical health are ways to make daily routines sacred. Gratitude is a ritual. When you wake up in the morning, take a moment to be thankful for your health, for the health of those around you, and for all the other things that keep your day full of life. Love and appreciation can be a start to rituals. When we love ourselves and our bodies, we are more inclined to take care of them, we are more willing to hold ourselves as worthy of respect. When you shower, nourish yourself with good scrubs, moisturizers, products that make you feel like you are celebrating the love you have for yourself. When you workout, choose routines that make you feel strong, that honor your strengths and weaknesses and do not push yourself to the point of punishment.
Power Tip 2: Go with your gut
Self awareness is key here. To start ritualizing, you need to start paying attention to what parts of your life need it. What moments in your day are draining your energy? Are you excited to wake up or does the thought of starting your day fill you with ennui? Think of the routine you absolutely must do and find ways to thread them with some meaning. As a mother, you have a busy day because you are selfless, you are kind, you are strong and you are working to make sure everyone around you is getting everything they need. Focus back on your senses when you feel yourself getting overwhelmed or numb. Enjoy the smell of the changing season when you go on a walk, listen to your favorite music when you do household chores, cook dishes with the spices that make your taste buds go crazy, notice the ways the sunsets and sunrises are beyond our wildest paintbrushes, how beautiful your kids are, your partner is, your parents are and how you can see yourself in them. There are a million and one ways to ground yourself in the celebration of life, let’s find yours.
Power Tip 3: End with your intention
Always remember your Why. Every single one of our actions can be acknowledged at a higher level. Why are you picking up those bananas while you shop for groceries? Because putting them in that morning smoothie gives you energy to take on the day and be your best self. Once your find your joy, pass it on. Share the sense of joy, gratitude, love, appreciation or whatever sentiment the moment created for you. A love note of encouragement to your kids in their lunch is one of the most common ways of spreading this message to those dearest to you.
Kathryn Flynn, a yoga teacher, lists some the ways she ritualizes her daily life.
- Take a deep breath before speaking. Give yourself a moment of reflection before you share your words, so they come from a place of clarity and confidence. Develop a reputation as reflective and thoughtful.
- Moisturize with loving attention. I like to dry brush my skin before a warm shower to wash off my day, and then I moisturize with sweet almond oil and added essential oil to suit my needs. Whatever the products you use, put them on with the sweetness and attention you receive at the spa.
- When you eat your food, just eat your food. Without television, texts or phone calls, eat your food with appreciation for what it offers you and the many hands that worked to bring it to you. Pay attention to it and the other people sharing your meal.
- Commit to no screens an hour before bed. Decrease stimulation and promote restful sleep by appealing to your circadian rhythms and putting away your devices.
- Light candles for your bedtime routine and shut off as many lights as you can function without. I like to read books completely unrelated to yoga at bedtime so it doesn’t feel like work.
- Ritualize your stuff – have fewer, more meaningful things, Fewer things require fewer decisions, which reduces your stress load so you can pay better attention to more important things.
- Take care of the stuff you have. Make it feel special. Pull on your socks nicely before you put your feet in your boots. Fold up your pajamas and make your bed every morning. Clean your makeup brushes. Have somewhere you hang or tuck away your mala.
- Make cleaning a peaceful meditation in itself by putting away your phone and playing music that speaks to you.
- Meditate. Start with five minutes or one of the numerous guided meditations available online. All you need to do is sit and observe your breath. You could even simply sit up in bed and count your breaths to 30 before you start your day.
- Do one thing at a time. Give up on multi-tasking. Be more effective by saying no to many things and enthusiastically saying yes to some. Be fully present in all that you do.
- Plan one day a month to dive into something you love. Learn hand lettering. Organize a monthly brunch potluck. Volunteer with an organization. Write letters to your elderly relatives. Scrapbook. Get out to the woods. Attend a meditation seminar, master a new recipe or go trampolining. Give yourself something to look forward to every month that satisfies your soul.
- Journal before bed. Consider starting a gratitude journal – just write down three things every night before bed that you’re grateful for.
- Cook the same thing for one occasion every year. Food is a powerful connector.
- Call your mother every Sunday evening. Commit to making a connection for a weekly update, even if it’s just a few minutes to remind her how much you love her.
Real Talk: A ritual is a way for you to remind yourself how much celebration there is in your every day life. From the moment you wake up, through the hectic schedule of your day, to when you close your eyes at night, find ways to bring mindfulness into your routine. We all have deep needs for joy and fulfillment and with these practices, you allow yourself to be wholly present in your life in ways that banish the “What is the point” question once and for all.